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P38 MAP kinase bidirectionally regulates synaptic plasticity in Aplysia

, : P38 MAP kinase bidirectionally regulates synaptic plasticity in Aplysia. Society for Neuroscience Abstract Viewer & Itinerary Planner : Abstract No 690 3

At Aplysia sensory-to-motor neuron synapses, the inhibitory neuropeptide FMRFa produces depression, and 5-HT produces facilitation. Short-term depression has been found to result from the activation of a phospholipase A2. The released arachidonate is metabolized by 12-lipoxygenase to active second messengers. We find that FMRFa leads to the phosphorylation and activation of p38 MAP kinase. Short-term depression and the release of arachidonate are blocked by the specific p38 kinase inhibitor SB 203580. Both the inhibitor and an affinity-purified antibody raised against recombinant Aplysia p38 kinase injected into sensory neurons prevented long-term depression, which depends on the phosphorylation of translation factors CREB2 and ATF2. Facilitation produced by 5-HT, on the other hand, inactivates p38 kinase. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays indicate that the kinase activates CREB2. p38 kinase also is pivotal in the bidirectional regulation of synaptic plasticity: when the kinase is inhibited, brief treatment with 5-HT that normally produces only short-term facilitation now results in long-term facilitation. Conversely in sensory neurons injected with the activated kinase, long-term facilitation is blocked, and brief exposure to FMRFa, which normally results in short-term depression, results in long-term depression. We conclude that p38 kinase, which itself is bidirectionally regulated by FMRFa and 5-HT, acts as a modulator of synaptic plasticity by positively regulating depression and by serving as an inhibitory constraint for facilitation.


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